Until World War II, the phrase Yamato- Damashii (also spelled Tamashii) was used to identify spiritual qualities supposedly unique to the Japanese people. These qualities included moral fortitude, courage, sincerity, devotion and an unswerving success oriented attitude. Originally, taken from the Chinese school of thought, the concept was based on unquestionable loyalty to emperor and nation. With a military mindset, the Japanese people later took this concept to define the spirit, which a warrior held when obtaining an objective.
Today, martial artists use the concept to define the spirit of a warrior when he or she trains, develops strategy and tactics or engages in conflict situations. Knowing that we are often our own worst enemy and human beings tend not to demonstrate discipline and persistence in achieving our objectives, many modern teachers now use the concept of Tamashii to identify those traits needed to become successful in any endeavor.
While it is very important to have the assertiveness, endurance and stamina to stay the course until success is achieved, it is equally important to be able to identify the most important and highest value things to achieve and in which order they need to be accomplished.
There are two questions that you can ask on a regular basis to keep yourself focused on getting your most important tasks completed on schedule. The first question is “What are my highest value activities?” Put another way, “what are the most important tasks I have to complete to make the greatest contribution to my organization? Which threat needs to be neutralized first in this conflict? What is the most important thing I could be doing right now for my family? What are the most important tasks I could be accomplishing?”
This is one of the most important questions you can ask and answer. What are your highest value activities? First, think this through for yourself. Then, ask your boss. Ask your coworkers and subordinates. Ask your friends and family. Like focusing the lens of a camera, you must be crystal clear about your highest value activities before you begin work.
The second question you can ask continually is, “What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?” This question comes from Peter Drucker, the management guru. It is one of the best of all questions for achieving personal effectiveness. What can you, and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference? This is something that only you can do. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. But if you do it, and you do it well, it can really make a difference to your life and your career. What is your answer to this question?
Once you have identified the most important thing you should be doing, it then becomes important that you do it right away and with an attitude that nothing will stop you from reaching that objective. This is what the term Tamashii or indomitable spirit is related to and is one of the true keys to martial arts mastery.